My husband & I just got home from our Viking Christmas Rhine Cruise. We're experienced travelers in our 60s who used to do most of our European travel by train, limit our itinerary to 3 cities at most & stay at least 2 nights in each city to minimize packing & unpacking. However now that we're older my husband wants to take more cruises because the tour companies handle luggage & airport transfers for us. This was our 1st Viking cruise. (A yr & a half ago we took a Tauck French Art cruise. The price for our Viking cruise was much less than the Tauck cruise.) Overall our Viking cruise was enjoyable & went smoothly, but there were a few things that could have been improved.
We took a 3 day Brugges, Belgium extention, which began when we landed in Brussels. Unfortunately no one was at the airport when we arrived to take us to Brugges. We waited 45 mins. & the driver eventually showed up, said he was in a traffic jam due to rain & apologized. When we arrived at our hotel, the Duke's Palace (a real Medieval palace in the center of Brugges) at 11 am. they said our room wouldn't be ready until 3 pm. They had a rigid policy & refused to let us go on a waiting list if a room became available. We were exhausted from our flight, but we knew of a nearby reastaurant, Lizzies that serves excellent waffles, so we had lunch. Then we returned to the hotel lobby around 12 noon & met up with 3 other couples from our tour. We got acquainted & then commiserated about having to wait so long for our rooms. Eventually all 4 couples fell asleep in the hotel lobby on the sofas & armchairs. In all other respects the hotel was very nice including their bar & restaurant.
Finally at around 2:45 pm 4 rms became available all at once. The hotel clerk tried to give us a room opposite an elevator, but the desk manager eventually found us a new room. It was nice with copies of old Flemish portraits & had a hi-tech bathroom with a huge shower. So we fell asleep, caught up with our jet lag then had dinner nearby later. The 2nd day an excellent guide took us on a walking tour of Brugges & the following was a free day. The last day we were loaded on a bus with an amusing guide who told us all about Belguim & Holland.
When we arrived in our cabin we were greeted by gingerbread, marzipan & chocolate Santas--an auspicious start to our holiday cruise. 330 was a little on the small size with a French balcony. Some cabins had space for 2 small armchairs, but ours didn't so we sat on our beds--very narrow singles. Our closet was also small & not enough hangers. My husband kept his suitcase under his bed, but I kept my bags in the knee hole under the desk. Bathroom was compact, but thoughtfully designed. The shower was small, but had one of those magnificent European shower heads plus sprayer that adjusts every-which-way. They supplied us with Occitaine toiletries & always enough fluffy, white towels. Heat was always warm enough. We had a big patio-style door that opened to the French balcony, but most days it was too cold to keep it open. There was a refrigerator & TV in the room. The walking track was on the roof deck above our room & runners were often pounding acoss our ceiling at around 11pm & 7 am. Biggest negative about our room was the poor Internet reception. Most days I couldn't get on until around 11pm or not at all. Reception was OK in public areas of the ship near the Reception Desk. Best thing about our room was the sweet Chambermaid, Marija, who brought us extra marzipan & kept our room very clean.